North Queensland Cowboys training from 1300 Smiles Stadium. Scott Bolton. Picture: Zak Simmonds
North Queensland Cowboys training from 1300 Smiles Stadium. Scott Bolton. Picture: Zak Simmonds

Bolton ban slammed

QUEENSLAND State of Origin legend Trevor Gillmeister has slammed the NRL's decision to hand a five-game suspension to Cowboys forward Scott Bolton.

The suspension, which will include a tour of the NRL's 16 clubs to show CCTV footage of him assaulting a woman in a bar last year, will result in Bolton being unavailable for action until North Queensland's Round 6 clash against the Warriors.

Gillmeister, who played 22 Origin games for Queensland and won two first-grade premierships with the Broncos, fears the NRL may have "jumped the gun" with the harshness of Bolton's punishment, which was earlier reported as being a six-week ban.

"He's gone through the (court) system," Gillmeister said.

"I know players have brought the game into disrepute, but I just hope they haven't jumped the gun with this one.

"He's got to go through all of it again, basically. I just can't really agree with the double whammy.

"So I think they've jumped the gun a little bit, in that sense."

Bolton has become the game's first victim of tougher disciplinary measures by the NRL, which has experienced a horror run of off-field incidents that included the sacking of Cowboys recruit Ben Barba.

The Australian Rugby League Commission has also stood down Dragons player Jack de Belin until his court case for the alleged aggravated sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman is finalised.

It came after the ARLC confirmed its change to policy relating to players facing serious criminal charges.

The change will allow the NRL so suspend a player facing serious criminal charges until the finalisation of any court proceedings.

The change was outlined to NRL Chairs and CEOs following yesterday's ARLC annual general meeting

"Every case has to be judged on its merits, that's what we have the courts for," Gillmeister said

"Hopefully he (Bolton) is right mentally.

"I've been suspended from the team a couple of times before and you don't really feel like part of the team."

Another former Queensland Origin great Ben Ikin expressed concern over Bolton's suspension, which is expected to be announced by the NRL today.

"The sanction seemed to be a little strange," Ikin said.

"I don't understand what they're trying to do.

"I find the whole situation complex and I don't envy anyone who is deciding what is best for the game."

"The going's on of the past six months have put the game in a very difficult position."

Inaugural Cowboys captain Laurie Spina expressed concern for Bolton.

"It looks like the NRL really wants to make a strong stance," he said.

"I'm not sure of the facts, but I feel for Scott,"

"It (Bolton's absence) will certainly test the depth of the squad, especially now that Ethan Lowe has gone to Souths."

A Rugby League Players Association spokesman said no comment could be made until it had received a formal notification of Bolton's suspension from the NRL.